Resselyn Catacho’s worked in some of the best bars in the North and South of Metro Manila, from Wyld in QC to the iconic Niner Ichi Nana, one of the legends from the early days of BGC. She’s now planted her feet firmly right smack in the middle of today’s hottest bar district, Makati’s Poblacion, and she’s banging out absolutely smashing cocktails at our favorite new bespoke cocktail destination of the year. It’s called Bang Bang, and really is, literally and figuratively, a destination.
There’s no signage, you see; and the bar isn’t visible from the street below. It’s right above VBQ, the Vietnamese Barbeque joint from Chef Kel Zaguirre and Restaurateur/Entrepreneur (Restaupreneur?) Reymont Choachuy. Which makes for a nice mix, actually. VBQ can be the fill-up spot before a night of drinking, or the order can be reversed and the bar goes first, and the restaurant below it after for recovery food. Either way, it works. But I recommend that the evening begin with tipples and Tiki Cocktails at Bang Bang.
The bar opens for business at 7pm but I like to come in half an hour before, as Res and her team are gearing up for the evening’s libations: polishing the ceramic, ceremonial glassware; lining up the arrays of bottles of spices and herbs and infusions. It’s the quiet before the storm, and it’s my favorite time to arrive. I like to hear the tinkling and the purring of the bar as it comes to life. Outside, the night deepens, but in Bang Bang, it’s the dawn of a new day. It’ll get busy by nine, noisy by ten, and aggressively crowded by eleven, but at half past six? I like to savor the silence and enjoy the fact that I get the ball rolling so to speak, order the very first drink of the evening, and savor it slowly in my favorite dark corner.
My number one is always the same: the “Straw Viet Tini”. The name’s a bit of stretch, but I appreciate the connection it has to VBQ downstairs: it’s a deeply nuanced blend of strong Vietnamese coffee, cold milk, chocolate bitters, a bracing splash of vodka, served with slices of sweet strawberries. It’s a cross between childhood and adulthood: there’s a tease of the taste of Tequila Rose, with a finish akin to a Black Russian. It’s the most interesting cocktail I’ve had all year. Often, bartenders get too creative, and sometimes overboard with the sheer number of bells and whistles in their mixes: as a result, usually they come up with either an over-sweet or over-smoky drink. Ingredients wasted for the sake of so-called originality.
Bang Bang’s bartender, Res, gets it right every time: just the right number of elements, and each one stands out and complements the rest. Exactly how a memorable cocktail should be. Exactly what you should expect, and enjoy, in a most memorable bar.